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We Make the World, part 15

kelson.philo's picture

"Omnitrex Tech" is now "We Make the World". Perhaps one day we'll learn why.

Part 15
Link to part 1

“You’ll be wanting to know who I am, I expect,” she said, exhaling after a long pull from the brown cylinder.

“Yes, I would–”

“But I’m not going to tell you. Not yet.”

“Well that’s all well and good for you–” but Paul was not allowed to finish his words as the lady jumped out of her seat and prowled over to where Paul sat and straddled him. Her legs were powerful. The scent and smoke from the burning brown tube was overpowering. Paul found he couldn’t move, that he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to or not. She was regarding him like he was evidence of some crime. Her jumpsuit squidged against his own. She was powerfully warm.

“You’ve been tasked with something, haven’t you?” She asked, still regarding him. Paul suddenly got the feeling he was being appraised for his value as a noonday meal. “Why haven’t you been following up on that? Hmm?”

“Stuff,” he said after much effort. “It keeps happening to me. Um. I’m not really too comfortable here, you know, um.”

She moved her face close to his. “What, not grateful for saving you from the media hungry masses?”

“Well, actually I’m very grateful it’s just that…” Damn it all, blood was rushing everywhere.

“It’s just that you’d rather know my name before I start gyrating?” She threw her head back and laughed, then withdrew her saddle pose and stood in front of him.

Gads, she was beautiful, Paul thought. Beautiful and terrible. What was she doing here? “Wait a minute, wait a minute!” Paul said waving his hands infront of him, trying to dispel wicked thoughts. “What am I doing here?”

“Are you satisfied with your lot in life?” She offered as way of reply, stepping towards the large round table in the middle of the crescent seating area. She waved her hand over it and started staring out into space. For the first time, Paul noticed she had no trex on her personage.

“Who are you?” he breathed.

“Shhh…” she answered, and something strange started happening to the tabletop. It rippled like a pool of water and waves started building in the middle. Crashing into each other quite violently, Paul was amazed to see through their near stroboscopic motion, forms starting to develop. They seemed familiar.

“Shight almighty,” he cried, “That’s the Expanse!”

And sure enough it was. The business district buildings rising highest at the center, slopping down and outwards to the Expanse floor. The wave motions were seizing up, the images were freezing into place. No, not freezing. Paul looked close and gasped. There, on the expanse floor, were little tiny dots all moving in a motion he was most familiar with. It was the streams of humanity pulsing in and out of the Expanse, on their way to and from work, to and from pains and pleasures. To and from life. They swirled around the Treeteks and cuppa kiosks. They pulsed in and out of the business district; they poured in and out of the Capillaries. Paul got a sense he had seen this before. In a different context, though. Something from his online lessons so long ago.

“Admiring the ants?”

“Sorry,” he asked, mesmerized. “I don’t follow.”

“Of course not. It’s OK, never mind. Are you a feed watcher, Paul?”

Paul was about to ask how she knew his name but then stopped himself. If she had tech like what he was seeing, if he had not completely lost his mind, then there was every possibility she had seen him on the feeds, had seen him and had his trex ID cataloged. Information traffic would be second nature to this person. He found himself suddenly feeling very small, as if he were one of the “ants”.

“What are you going to tell her?” she inquired.

“Tell who?”

“The Detective, of course. She charged you with ratting out your terrorist brethren. She expects a report this evening. I doubt she’ll be happy when you tell her you haven’t seen anything.”

“Haven’t seen anything? Haven’t seen anything?” he was on his feet and shouting now. “Just who in the hell of hells do you think you are?”

The move came swift. Paul found himself sitting on the couch once more. It took his nerves a second to remember that she had deftly roundhouse kicked him right across his chin. He was suddenly blinking very fast. Then the pain started in.

“Dammit,” he said, very slowly. Defeat settled heavy on his shoulders.

“Damn me all you want, Paul, but you need to get it into your nervous system that I’m somebody who can , ah, reset your world any time I wish. Now, before I decide to clean the floor with your face, you need to consider that you have answered none of my questions.”

“Fine,” Paul said after an instant of his eyes boggling out of his head. He was very near apoplexy. “What was the question again?”

“Are you happy with your lot in life?”

***
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More trouble

There's a lot to like in this series, but I'm finding my favorite part is the increasing trouble Paul is getting into with almost every installment. This one seems like a particularly dire step, though. =)

kelson.philo's picture

Thanks! Too bad for Paul,

Thanks! Too bad for Paul, of course...

I've been trying to take a cue from Vonnegut on the whole "being sadistic to your protagonist" thing. At what point it becomes silly, I won't know for sure until after the fact.